All Saints' Day Costume--Mother Teresa of Calcutta

I'm resurrecting this All Saints' costume tutorial in honor of the upcoming canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta on . It's fairly easy to put together and an ambitious person could certainly get it together over the weekend. On to the original post... Enjoy!


 All Saints' Day will be here soon and we are in full preparation mode!  Since we do not celebrate Halloween, we have some extra time and resources to pour into some really creative costuming. I made this Mother Teresa costume several years and ago and it continues to be one of my favorites. It's super easy to put together but does take time so it's best to plan ahead. Or you can just do what I do and pull an all-nighter (every. single. year).

Why don't we celebrate Halloween? The better question is "Why should we?"

It simply isn't clear what the secular holiday is intended to celebrate... and for all the money invested (costuming, candy, dental bills), we don't feel compelled to participate.

The word "Halloween" is a derivative of "All Hallow's Eve" or the "Eve of All Saints". Instead of prioritizing the religious holiday second, we place it first. We don't have the time or interest to do both; so Halloween gets the boot.  The kids love our All Saints' Day celebrations and the adults always succumb to the temptation to include plenty of candy! For more of my thoughts on Halloween, see this post: Halloween {A Failed Catechesis on Holy Death}

Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.
— Mother Teresa of Calcutta

To make the Mother Teresa costume:

Here's a very basic explanation of how I put together the Mother Teresa costume. It was a while ago so I apologize that I don't have more detailed figures. It isn't too complex though and I think worth sharing.

I have no exact measurements to provide because few are needed and the ones that are used are specific to each child. 

First, I examined photos of the habits of Mother Teresa's order (Missionaries of Charity) until I had a basic idea of the design. You should definitely take the time to do this, too...  the sisters are lovely and sign of hope and joy in a suffering world.

Fabric:

I brought my daughter to the fabric store with me and headed to the muslin aisle. I found 33" white muslin for $.99 a yard and wrapped it loosely around her in the style of a sari in order to estimate yardage. 

I found Blue cotton in my stash that resembled the color of the blue stripes on the habits of the order. Not perfect but it was free! I have no idea how much I used but eyeballed it and guessed that I would have enough (sorry...I know that's not incredibly helpful).

Sari Design:

I designed the costume in 3 pieces:

  1. White turtleneck (had one in her drawer)
  2. Veil -The veil of the the Missionaries of Charity drapes down the back, around the front of the body, and across the opposite shoulder. This is one piece of fabric. To measure for size, I took the short end of the fabric length (33" width) and pinned it over her hair (as shown in the photo). I draped it down her back to the desired length, across her opposite shoulder, down her back, and cut it at the desired length. 
  3. Skirt - Basically just a tube with elastic. I wrapped a piece of fabric around her waist to determine fit. I measured her waist and cut elastic to that size (normally I would size the elastic smaller for a better fit but I wanted extra room to tuck in  the turtleneck and to allow the costume to be used the following year!). I rolled the waistband until the skirt was the correct length instead of hemming (hurrah!). That allows for a taller child to wear it as well. I added the stripes to the skirt fabric before sewing the seam or waistband.

Adding the blue stripes:

The habit of the order uses 3 solid blue stripes along the edges of the sari material, One larger stripe and two smaller stripes. I eyeballed the stripe widths and went a little larger to make the stitching easier on myself. I was not going for a replica of the habit but an overall representation of the habit. Would someone know who she was by looking at my design? Yes. Then it's all good. 

I sewed the strips (4" and 1.5") into tubes and pressed them so that the edges would be nicely finished and the extra fabric would add weight and better drape to the lightweight muslin. The finished stripes were 2", 3/4" and 3/4" wide. If you want a more authentic look, reduce the size of the smaller stripes. 

Stripes are applied to the hem of the skirt and to all 4 edges of the veil cloth.

Then I pinned and sewed. Lots of strips onto lots of fabric! But well worth the effort.

You can also color or paint the stripes on if you prefer. That would have driven me mad with this size costume but I've seen it done rather well on a much small version. Remember... it isn't a replica but a representation!

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
— Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Click on images below to enlarge.

To wear:

Put on the turtleneck and skirt first. Start the veil at the head. Pin it in place at the nape of the neck (we used a safety pin).  Let it fall down to desired length in back, drape it across the waist at the right side and bring up to and over the left shoulder. We pinned it in place with a religious medal.

Enjoy your celebration! If you email me with a photo of your little saints wearing their Mother Teresa costumes, I will add it to the photo gallery on this post. :)

Posted on September 1, 2016 and filed under All Saints' Day, Liturgical Year, Family Life.